McKinsey Quarterly Top Ten Articles of 2010

McKinsey Quarterly Top Ten Articles of 2010

by McKinsey Quarterly Available at:

We’ve rounded up the most popular articles among readers this year. Topics they were most interested in include decision-making biases, digital marketing, and management in uncertain times.


Global forces: An introduction

Five crucibles of change will restructure the world economy for the foreseeable future. Companies that understand them will stand the best chance of shaping it. A related video highlights the value of tracking global forces and how to build them into corporate strategy.


Clouds, big data, and smart assets: Ten tech-enabled business trends to watch

Advancing technologies and their swift adoption are upending traditional business models. Senior executives need to think strategically about how to prepare their organizations for the challenging new environment. In a set of accompanying podcasts, leading experts offer their views on how these trends will evolve and change business models.


A new way to measure word-of-mouth marketing

Assessing its impact as well as its volume will help companies take better advantage of buzz. An accompanying podcast focuses on how marketers can use word of mouth to influence consumer behavior.


The case for behavioral strategy

Left unchecked, subconscious biases will undermine strategic decision making. Learn how to counter them and improve corporate performance, and explore an accompanying interactive showing the biases most pertinent to business and the ways they can combine to create dysfunctional patterns in corporate cultures.

Plus, take this brief survey on how you make decisions, and we’ll send you feedback on how your decision-making style compares with those of other respondents and on how to avoid any biases you may be prone to.


Why good bosses tune in to their people

Know how to project power, counsels Stanford management professor Bob Sutton, since those you lead need to believe you have it for it to be effective. And to lock in your team’s loyalty, boldly defend their backs.


How centered leaders achieve extraordinary results

Executives can thrive at work and in life by adopting a leadership model that revolves around finding their strengths and connecting with others.


Creating value: An interactive tutorial

In this video presentation, McKinsey partner Tim Koller explores the four guiding principles of corporate finance that all executives can use to home in on value creation when they make strategic decisions.


Retaining key employees in times of change

Many companies throw financial incentives at senior executives and star performers during times of change. There is a better and less costly solution.


Unlocking the elusive potential of social networks

To realize the marketing potential of virtual activities, you have to make them truly useful for consumers.


Boosting the productivity of knowledge workers

The key is identifying and addressing the barriers workers face in their daily interactions. 

Best Regards

  • Amsterdam


    Anti-Islamic Finance Movement


    Dear my weblog readers,

    I am very pleased to share with you my brief article published in Utusan Malaysia, one of the Malaysian mainstream newspapers. This article nevertheless is written in Malay language. For full article, click here Enjoy reading!

    Best Regards

  • Cambridge University

    Tribute to the late Professor Ahmad Ibrahim

    Tan Sri Datuk Professor Ahmad Ibrahim B.A., M.A., LLD. a.k.a. Ahmad bin Mohamed Ibrahim (b. 12 May 1916 Singapore – d. 17 April, 1999, Gombak, Malaysia). Educated at Victoria Bridge School, Raffles Institution, Raffles College, and Cambridge University where he graduated with first class honours in economics and law. Appointed a Singapore Magistrate in 1946, District Judge and Magistrate in 1955, he became Singapore’s first State Advocate General in 1959, and Singapore’s first Attorney-General in 1966. He was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws (LL.D) from the University of Singapore on 5 June 1965. Known to the law fraternity as an expert on Muslim law, he drafted the Administration of Muslim Law Act which revamped the Syariah Court’s jurisdiction, and established the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore. From 1969 he worked in Malaysia as Professor of Legal Studies at the Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya, next as Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya, and then as Sheikh and Dean, Kulliyyah of Laws, International Islamic University, Malaysia.

    5 June 1965 : Awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws (LL.D) from the then University of Singapore (today’s National University of Singapore.
    Malaysia Awards
    1974 : Johan Mangku Negara (J.M.N) was presented by His Majesty the Yang Dipertuan Agong of Malaysia.
    1979 : Darjah Yang Mulia Pangkuan Negara (D.M.P.N) with the title of Datuk, given by the Yang Dipertua Negeri of Pulau Pinang
    1979 : Received the Allama Muhammad Iqbal Medal from the Government of Pakistan.
    1987 : Panglima Setia Mahkota (PSM) by His Majesty the Yang Dipertuan Agong, with the title of Tan Sri.
    1989 : Maal Hijrah Award
    1992 : Tun Razak Award


    Korean sukuk law rejection is a wake-up call

    Korean sukuk law rejection is a wake-up call

    By MUSHTAK PARKER | ARAB NEWS Available at:

    The reported failure of the strategy and finance committee of the South Korean National Assembly chaired by Kang Ghil Boo in December to approve a finance bill introduced by the Ministry of Finance which would have given tax neutrality to alternative financial products such as sukuk (Islamic securities) is a wake-up call for the global Islamic finance industry.

    The Ministry of Finance had proposed a revision to the taxation regulations with the aim of affording sukuk the same tax relief as conventional bonds to ensure that South Korean issuers would receive the same tax advantages as those applied to conventional bond issuers.

    South Korean capital markets sources preferred not to comment on the development which they consider politically and socio-religiously sensitive, although some of them privately expressed dismay over the development especially after the subcommittee of taxation of the very strategy & finance committee had already approved the changes in principle.

    It is no secret that some National Assembly parliamentarians have been bombarded with Islamophobic lobbying from powerful Christian evangelical groups, some of which have close links with their US counterparts. These include the prominent Korean Association of Church Communication. The objections to the facilitation of Islamic financial products in South Korea is based on irrational and misinformed fears that such products would generate a flow of funds for terrorist organizations through a web of Muslim charities.

    Irrespective of the motives of the people behind the objections in South Korea, the reality is that the Islamic finance movement, despite the impressive growth of the global industry over the last three decades, is still a highly parochial and insular one still largely engrossed in talking to itself and to its principal immediate stakeholders — the shareholders, investors and its regulators.

    Outside this limited stakeholder paradigm, there is hardly much interaction with other equally important stakeholder groups — the government policy-makers, national treasuries or finance ministries, parliamentary finance committees, and consumer groups and watchdogs.

    Whatever interaction there may be in the Islamic finance space is limited to the memorandum of understanding between regulators, or between governments in a general economic and financial framework, or cooperation between educational and training institutions. When last did a parliamentary delegation from an Islamic Development Bank (IDB) member country discuss Islamic finance with a sister parliamentary group from another IDB member country, let alone with a non-IDB member country? How often is Islamic finance policy discussed as a banking and finance issue between intra-IDB member country policymakers and treasuries?

    Unfortunately, the sector is not used to thinking outside the black box which reflects its entrenched parochialism.

    Even Malaysia, so often championed as the most proactive country in supporting the Islamic finance industry, has failed to rise to the occasion on a number of occasions. Malaysian Prime Minister Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak hosting South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, leader of the ruling Grand National Party, on a state visit to Kuala Lumpur earlier this month did not even raise the issue, not even as an inquiry, in their bilateral talks which took place in the aftermath of the failure of the National Assembly top adopt the tax neutrality recommendations for sukuk. The topic would have been pertinent amongst two long-standing friendly nations — after all the two leaders were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between their two countries.

    Cooperation in the Islamic finance space was not even on the agenda especially given the increasing cooperation between South Korean firms such as Woori Investment & Securities Co. and Korea Investment & Securities and Malaysian firms in recent years. Both Bank Negara Malaysia and the Securities Commission Malaysia, the country’s banking and securities regulators respectively, have also penned MoUs, including cooperation in the Islamic finance space, with their Korean counterparts over the last year or so. Bilateral trade between Malaysia and South Korea currently totals $16 billion per year.

    Similarly, when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was on an official visit to Malaysia a few weeks ago, Najib once again failed to officially bring up the question of cooperation in the Islamic finance space to help facilitate access of such products to India’s 200 million plus Muslim population and others interested in ethical finance, perhaps even under financial inclusion policies.

    Right wing Hindu nationalist groups have in the past expressed similar antagonism against and opposition to the introduction of Islamic financial products on the ground that it unduly favors Muslims in India.

    Another difficulty in India is at the sate level, where communist-inspired legislatures and administrations, for instance, are against the introduction of Islamic banking for ideological reasons. This does not detract from the fact that they do allow conventional banks, the very epitome of the market-based capitalism, supposedly the sworn enemy of socialism. Not surprisingly, in April this year the Kerala High court directed the state government and its institutions not to promote and invest in the Kerala State Islamic Development Corporation, a Shariah-compliant finance company, aimed at developing infrastructure in the state and attracting inward investment from the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

    South Korea of course is not unique in experiencing domestic political problems over the introduction of enabling laws or amendments to existing laws to facilitate Islamic financial products on a level playing field to equivalent conventional financial products. India and France, where a court last year refused to allow Shariah-compliant state financing to be extended to credit unions and SMEs (small-and-medium-sized enterprises) on the grounds that France was a secular country, have had there share of market access impediments.

    This in contrast to the highly informed attitude shown by the Christian Finance Action Groups in the UK Treasury’s public consultation on the inclusion of tax neutrality measures in the finance bills of 2009 and 2010 for a spate of Islamic financial products including Alternative Financial Investment Bonds (AFIBS) — the UK Finance Bill term for sukuk — and Diminishing Musharaka used in housing mortgages.

    In fact, in the UK legislation the word Islamic does not appear at all. Instead the bill talks about alternative financial products with similar economic characteristics to bonds or bills or housing finance. Perhaps herein lies the lesson for the South Korean lawmakers, for seeing Islamic finance as a religious phenomenon rather than an alternative ethical financial offering open to all irrespective of religion, is clouding their understanding of what Islamic finance is all about.

    A failure to correct this perception may hamper any semblance of Islamic finance activity in the South Korean market, albeit limited, and perhaps more importantly may limit the access of South Korean corporates and financial institutions to the Islamic finance market, which has estimated funds under management in excess of $1.2 trillion. One estimate puts potential sukuk issuances out of South Korea over the next two years at $1 billion as local corporates seek to diversify their sources of funding in a difficult international credit market.

    At the same time the only trade deficit Seoul has is with the oil-exporting GCC countries on which South Korea heavily relies on to drive its industrial and economic machinery.

    In terms of population, the fears of the rejectionists too are unfounded. Out of a 50 million or so population, local Muslims account for less than 40,000, with another 100,000 Muslim foreign workers employed in the economy. In contrast Buddhists account for 24 percent of the population, followed by 19 percent for Protestants and 11 percent for Catholics.


    A Must Read Interview with Sheikh Yusuf al Qaradhawi

    A Conversation with Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradhawi

    By Huda Al-Saleh Available at:

    Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- In an extensive interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi revealed that he turned down the post of “Muslim Brotherhood guide” on numerous occasions, preferring to remain a guide for the nation. Al-Qaradawi also revealed that he believes that the traditional Salafi trend has become divided into several schools of thought, some of which are very close to the Muslim Brotherhood Group.

    Sheikh al-Qaradawi also stated that the Islamic jurisprudence crisis relating to women’s issues cannot be attributed to Islam, but that it is a crisis in understanding these issues by some people.

    The Following is the full text of the interview:

    [Asharq Al Awsat] Your Eminence, allow us to start with your assessment of the current crop of Islamist Movements, particularly regarding the issue of secrecy and the lack of transparency?

    [Al-Qaradawi] First of all, we would like to ask: What is the meaning of the political Islamist movement? I have the book, “Priorities of the Islamist Movements,” in which the Islamist movements are defined as organized collective popular work to serve Islam. The work has to be popular and non-official; also it has to be collective and not individual, because the individual work can never achieve great aims; it also has to be organized with leadership and grassroots, and its aim has to be to make Islam victorious; moreover the Islamist movement has to have links to politics, because it is not possible to raise the status of Islam unless it has influence and impact. In the life and nature of Islam there is call, state, creed, Shariaa, worship, dealings, faith, and worldly life; in order that this is achieved, Islam has to be linked to politics.

    [Asharq Al Awsat] What about the secret work of the Islamist movements?

    [Al-Qaradawi] Not all the Islamist movements, as I describe them, are based on secrecy. This depends on the countries in which these movements operate; if they are countries that allow work to support Islam, and such work is not legally or constitutionally banned, then the groups work openly. There is the example of the Jamaat-e Islami in Pakistan, which was established by Mr. Abul A’ala Maududi; its nature since it was established has been to work openly and publicly. As for the Muslim Brotherhood, it is described as a banned group because the state does not allow Islamist work in public, and also prevents the establishment of a party that is linked to Islam on the pretext of banning the establishment of parties on religious bases.

    Here I wonder, are the religious people banned from practicing politics and participating in the building of the country?! There is no doubt that this is a crime, because religion is the essence of life, and the religious individual has the right to participate in building the country through his personal opinion, be it political, economic, educational, or health opinion. If the state prevents the practicing of politics, then this will certainly lead to underground work.

    I was asked by a state security officer at a meeting about my opinion of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and I called on him to grant the group the freedom to work openly. Why is the Muslim Brotherhood prevented from establishing a party?

    If the groups are banned from working publicly, they will start to work underground. The Islamist groups might be forced to work secretly. This is an unhealthy situation, because whoever works in the open can be held to account for his actions, and you can criticize him, but how can you hold to account whoever works in secret?

    [Asharq Al Awsat] Are governments exaggerating the dangers of political Islamist movements, because of the fear that these movements one day might demand their right to govern?

    [Al-Qaradawi] Sometimes the apprehensions can be correct, but at other times they only are mere illusions. Many of the existing governments now do not have any popular support; they are governments that are hated by their peoples, and they govern their countries by brute force, and martial and emergency laws rather than governing through the consensus of the people. It is possible that they hold elections in the name of democracy, and establish parliaments; however, the fact is that they do not express the satisfaction of the people as these government rig the elections. As an old socialist has said: Elections in the socialist countries are a “one-horse race,” and hence the result is that the candidate wins the famous four nines (99.99 percent).

    [Asharq Al Awsat] What are your thoughts on what some are describing as an internal split within Islamist movements between patriotic and revolutionary divisions?

    [Al-Qaradawi] Splits happen frequently, whether in Islamist or non-Islamist movements. This is because there are those who do not like continuous silence, and they have violent and revolutionary character, and hence they split, and establish another group whose course is violence. However, what is important in all this is the mother group, which in many cases is the one that remains, and the splinters become unable to do anything, and they dissolve in society.

    [Asharq Al Awsat] But why do Islamist groups fail in implementation?

    [Al-Qaradawi] This is not restricted only to the Islamist groups. All the idealistic movements that have principles for which they call, when the time comes for implementation the idealistic call becomes one thing, and the implementation becomes another. This is the nature of man himself, and the nature of human beings. Not all movements are like this, and it is wrong to generalize this judgment; nevertheless, the Islamist movements remain better than others, because religion protects from severe deviation; all democrats are the first ones to encroach upon the principles of democracy.

    [Asharq Al Awsat] Let us move to the current relations between the Muslim Brotherhood, and traditional Salafism. Recently a form of competition has started to emerge between the Salafi tendency of the Muslim Brotherhood on both the political and jihadi arenas, and this competition has been spread even within the ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood themselves. What do you say about this?

    [Al-Qaradawi] This is true. The Muslim Brotherhood tendency is a broad one. Sheikh Hasan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, when describing the group says that it includes all the concepts for which all groups call. He says that it is a Salafi movement as it calls for returning to the Koran and Sunnah, it is a Sufi tendency as it calls for purifying the hearts and returning to God, it is a Sunni way that is based on honoring the Prophet’s companions and on the work of the Sunni school of thinking; moreover, it is a political body, a sports group, a youths league. The group includes all the reformist concepts. The advantage of the Muslim Brotherhood lies in its comprehensive character and its balance, as it does not exaggerate in supporting one tendency at the expense of another. For instance, the Salafi tendency sometimes prevails over the Muslim Brotherhood; this tendency adopts a hard-line attitude about issues including the interpretation of God’s qualities, the arguments between the Salafi and the Ash’ari [Sunni sub-sect believes that that man does not have the power to act before he actually acts and that God creates this power in him at the time of action], the Maturidi [Sunni sub-sect believes that before the action man has a certain general power for action but that this power becomes specific to a particular action only when the action is performed], and others. Thus, the Salafis enter the arena, and these issues and others become the focus of a major debate, arguments, and fighting. This exists in particular in the Gulf countries, where the Muslim Brotherhood tendency has been influenced by the Salafi tendency.

    [Asharq Al Awsat] But the relations between the Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood have not been good, and these relations have become more critical in the case of the traditional Salafi after Hamas entered the political arena?

    [Al-Qaradawi] The traditional Salafism has become several schools of thinking, and is no longer a single school. There is a Salafi movement that is close to the Muslim Brotherhood, and now there are those who say to the Salafis: Now you are talking like Al-Qaradawi. There are Salafis who have become close to centrism, which is based on combining the opposites, combining mind and matter, combining the spirit and the material, sometimes interpreting and at other times abstaining from interpretation, and combining intellect, action, religion, and politics. Moreover, we cannot disregard the development of the Salafis; in the past they did not talk about politics, but now they participate in the political battles and the elections after they reproached the Muslim Brotherhood for a long time for doing so. The Salafis also have developed in several jurisprudence issues, such as “photography,” which they used to consider one of the major crimes, but now they consider it allowed.

    [Asharq Al Awsat] Is this change due to enlightenment, or has reality imposed this change?

    [Al-Qaradawi] There is no doubt that the reality has imposed change on them, including getting in touch with the world, and their travel to the world countries, after a large number of them used never to leave their own countries, which was the cause of not changing their thinking. When the Salafi goes out, and gets in touch with the various peoples, he definitely will revise his views. Also there are those whose reading has expanded, and got acquainted with books they never expected to read at any time. Man is not a stone, and there are many influences that are bound to cast their shadow on the individual.

    [Asharq Al Awsat] Has the Muslim Brotherhood abandoned the jihad currently represented by the Hamas Movement?

    [Al-Qaradawi] The groups that have been based on jihad, such as the jihadi or Salafi jihadi groups have been established against the Muslim Brotherhood. The first jihadi group was established as opposing the Muslim Brotherhood, and accused it of betraying the principles. Such groups have carried out some acts of violence against the Jews, the British, and some citizens, such as the case of Al-Khazindar [In March 1948, members of the Muslim Brotherhood secret apparatus assassinated a judge, Ahmad al-Khazindar Bey, who had given a prison sentence to a Muslim Brother for attacking British soldiers]. We said to them: We have tried such things, but they have not been helpful, and we have not gained anything out of them other than detention, suffering, and victimization.

    Man ought to be able to change his plans on the basis of what he sees. All Islamist movements are entitled to try for themselves, and start from zero until they reach the conclusions of the preceding groups. The jihadis who reproached the Muslim Brotherhood for some issues, have gone back, retreated, considered themselves to have been wrong, and issued more than 12 books most of which are revisions, including the Islamic Group in Egypt, and many others that are based on violence, or use military force against the governments or against the citizens themselves.

    [Asharq Al Awsat] Sheikh Ahmad Yassin subscribed to the principle that his movement should not engage in any political activities. He stood by this principle until he was assassinated. After Hamas won the elections, and joined the political process, does the current situation in Palestine prove the correctness of the stance of the Hamas founder?

    [Al-Qaradawi] The political issues are subject to improvisation and change; they are not firm principles, but they are viewpoints that change with the change of situation and circumstances. Hamas’s refusal to join the political process and the elections has its circumstances. However, when Hamas discovered that there is someone who was going to usurp the state, encroach upon it, and that its members would become prisoners, it decided to fight the elections. Hamas won the elections contrary to the expectations of its opponents; thus the elections proceeded without rigging, contrary to many of the elections that take place in the Arab and Muslim countries.

    [Asharq Al Awsat] Recently Sudan failed to keep its southern province. The secession is taking place under the influence of an Islamist address by Al-Bashir, who threatens to apply Islamic Shariaa in the south. Are Al-Bashir actions an embarrassment for Islamist groups?

    [Al-Qaradawi] First of all, Al-Bashir will not apply Islamic Shariaa in the south, because any region that does not contain a Muslim majority does not have to apply the Shariaa, as the case is in South Sudan. Shariaa only applies in the regions that have Muslim majorities. The application of Shariaa is not what has led to the secession of the south; there are numerous reasons for this secession, which started with the British occupation that isolated South Sudan from North Sudan, and considered it an independent state, as the northern citizen would not be able to enter the south without special procedures, and the south was instilled with the culture of hating Khartoum. However, Sudan has not exerted any effort since its independence to combat what the colonialist powers had entrenched, and to change the inherited concepts; moreover, there are schemes plotted for that purpose.

    [Asharq Al Awsat] Are you in favor of the conspiracy theory?

    [Al-Qaradawi] I am not in favor of the conspiracy theory. However, the issue cannot be ignored. The reality has proved that there are conspiracies that scheme to secede the south from Sudan. Unfortunately, the world around us is talking in the language of blocs, and the scattered entities are getting together; however, the Arabs and Muslims still are in a state of increasing fragmentation and division. Europe that had fought each other, has found its interest in uniting and disregarding the entire past, contrary to what we do.

    [Asharq Al Awsat] Have you been offered the post of president of Al-Azhar?

    [Al-Qaradawi] No, never, and it can never be offered to me at any time.

    [Asharq Al Awsat] What about the post of the general guide of the Muslim Brotherhood?

    [Al-Qaradawi] It has been offered to me several times, but I personally declined.

    [Asharq Al Awsat] What were your reasons for declining?

    [Al-Qaradawi] I found that it would be better for me to be a guide for the nation in general, with all its groups and tendencies, rather than be a guide for one of the groups, because this is more beneficial.

    [Asharq Al Awsat] Was there government pressure involved?

    [Al-Qaradawi] No, nothing like this.

    [Asharq Al Awsat] What is your personal opinion of the attendance by Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Ashura [anniversary of the battle of Karbala and martyrdom of Imam Hussein Bin-Ali, 10 Muharram every Hegira year] celebration in Turkey? Is there a Shiite invasion of the Sunni cities?

    [Al-Qaradawi] With regard to the Shiite invasion, I have said it repeatedly that in order to achieve effective rapprochement among the two schools of thinking, we ought to refrain from promoting one school of thinking in the societies of the other school. Because of this, the Shiites have become angry with me, especially after I called on the Sunni ulema to strengthen the Sunnis with any culture that protects from this invasion. This is because the Shiite school of thinking is trained for preaching their creed, and allocating large funds for this. Moreover, the Shiites have behind them a country to guide them.

    With regard to Turkey, there are those in Istanbul who are known as Alawi [Shiite sub-sect, and an offshoot of the Shiite Twelvers], and perhaps they are the ones who celebrated Ashura. The attendance by Recep Tayyip Erdogan definitely was due to political reasons, especially as he is known for his skill and diplomacy; it is an attempt to win the hearts of all Turkish sides, especially the Alawi, the same as he did with the Kurds.

    [Asharq Al Awsat] From an Islamic jurisprudence perspective, why is there always a crisis over every issue related to women, as it became apparent in Saudi Arabia recently over the work of women as “cashiers”?

    [Al-Qaradawi] The crisis cannot be attributed to the Islamic jurisprudence. It is a crisis of some people in understanding these issues. The Salafi tendency was one of the most hard line about issue; however, recently new ideas have started to enter the tendency, and to create some kind of flexibility. The best proof of this is the conference of Islamic University in Medina to present the efforts of the Kingdom to serve the Islamic issues, as there was distinguished presence of women, and they participated in the research work and verbal interventions. This was the first time I saw such participation. Moreover, some time ago, I read about the discussions of the issue of “women driving cars,” the discussions took place publicly, which showed the development of the situation and the gradual steering away from rigidity. With time, the viewpoints of such issues will get closer.

    [Asharq Al Awsat] Can you give us your opinion on two controversial issues; the mixing of the sexes and listening to music?

    [Al-Qaradawi] What is meant by mixing of the sexes? Sometimes the term suggests something different from what is intended. This is as if it is mixing two issues together. If we are talking about man meeting woman in the mosque, as they meet in pilgrimage, mini-pilgrimage, scientific institutions, and scientific lessons, Islam does not prevent this. There are no mosques for women; what is known as Women’s Gate at the Prophet’s Mosque was ordered by the honorable Prophet, God’s prayer and peace be upon him, in order to prevent men brushing against women. Islam has not ordered the existing severe separation between the sexes, because man is from a woman, and woman is from a man. God Almighty says: “The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil [Sura Al-Tawbah, from Verse 71].” Therefore, a woman has the right to enter the parliamentary and Shura councils. Women are half the society. Why can man decide the affairs of women, while women cannot decide and participate in deciding their own affairs?! When there is a need for mixing the genders in worship, education, or social activities, it is imperative to observe the Shariaa controls, such as absence of privacy, absence of excessive makeup, and observing the necessary ethics of lowering the eyes, and politeness in talking walking, and movement in order to prevent the situation from becoming chaotic.

    [Asharq Al Awsat] What about singing and music?

    [Al-Qaradawi] Previously, I wrote a book about singing and music in which I allowed singing and listening to music. This is an issue over which the faqihs, past and present, have disagreed, and over which many books have been written. The fact is that singing, whether or not accompanied by a musical instrument, is allowed, but under controls including that its contents do not contradict the creed, Shariaa, and Islamic ethics such as mysteries of Iliya Abu-Madi, which were sung in colloquial by Muhammad Abdal-Wahhab in his song “Without Asking Why;” the poetry of Abu-Nuwwas that says [poetry] “Do not blame me, because blame is a temptation, and cure me with what was the illness;” the song “The one with daring eyes;” or the song “Life is a cigarette and a drink.” Also the way of performing ought to steer away from wantonness. This also is linked to women, as it is allowed to listen to women, as there is nothing wrong in listening to a woman singing “Beloved mother?” The honorable Prophet listened to two women slaves. However, women’s voices ought to steer away from wantonness and arousing lust. The controls include that singing should not be coupled with something prohibited, and hence the quantity of listening ought to be observed, and there ought to be no excess in listening.

    [Asharq Al Awsat] Your Eminence, your relations with the Salafis in the past has gone through major tensions. How are your relations with them now?

    [Al-Qaradawi] Now, they are good relations. Here I am today in the country of the Salafi. It is clear that my relations with all are as good as we might wish with all age groups. Moreover, I do not adopt a hostile stance toward Salafi tendency; it is merely a stance of criticism in some aspects. I always call on everybody to adopt centrism. I also am in favor of Sufism. It is imperative to adopt what is best in Sufism, as the Sheikh of Islam Ibn-Taymiyah and Imam Ibn-al-Qayyim did; they were among the greatest Sufis, but they rejected from Sufism what is inappropriate. Personally, I call for “making Sufism into Salafi” and “making Salafi into Sufi.” The Sufi takes from the discipline of Salafi in not following the fabricated Hadith, polytheist rites, and tomb-side rites, and we want the Salafi to take from the Sufi tenderness, spirituality, and piousness. From this mixture we get the required Muslim.

    [Asharq Al Awsat] With whom among the Saudi Sheikhs do you have special relations?

    [Al-Qaradawi] Recently I had a meeting with my friend Sheikh Salih Bin-Humayd, preacher of the Kaaba Mosque and chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council; this is in addition to Dr Muhammad al-Aqla, president of the Islamic University in Medina; Sheikh Abdullah Bin-Mani, who is an old friend. I have great amicable links to the Saudi mufti, and I met him when he was first appointed as Saudi general mufti. The mufti said to me that he was a reader of my books, including “Imperativeness of the Islamic Solution” and “The Imported Solutions,” in addition to my books in political thinking. Also I had great amicable relations with Sheikh Abdulaziz Bin-Baz, God have mercy on his soul.

    [Asharq Al Awsat] What about Sheikh Salman al-Awdah?

    [Al-Qaradawi] (Laughs) He is one of my closest friends, and they consider him a follower of Al-Qaradawi’s course.

    [Asharq Al Awsat] And Sheikh Hasan al-Saffar?

    [Al-Qaradawi] There are good relations between him and me. I have met him recently in Qatar, and I sent him a letter of thanks when he denounced the stance adopted by the Kuwaiti man against Lady Aishah [Prophet’s wife], God be satisfied with her.

    [Al-Salih] Have you seen Al-Jama’ah series, in which a characterization of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood Group, Hasan al-Banna, was presented, and which was shown on the television screens last Ramadan?

    [Al-Qaradawi] The fact is that I did not see it, because I was busy, but I saw a few sections of it, and I was told about it. It seems to me that it was not fair in presenting the life of Al-Banna, it exaggerated some issues at the expense of others, most prominently is that the series ended before his death, while it should have ended with the end of Hasan al-Banna and his assassination. The series ended without mentioning his assassination in order not to condemn his murderers.

    [Asharq Al Awsat] How has age changed Sheikh Al-Qaradawi?

    [Al-Qaradawi] There is no doubt that it added more maturity. The longer one lives, the more his experience increases, the more his reading increases, the deeper his insight gets, and the more his maturity increases. As they say, life is the best teacher, and life is a school for anyone who lives it with open eyes and mind.

    [Asharq Al Awsat] How do you describe yourself?

    [Al-Qaradawi] I am one of the soldiers of Islam. I am a soldier of God Almighty fighting with knowledge, work, and call for God. I wish to conclude my life by martyrdom for the sake of God. We have a well-known prayer: “O God, we beseech you to grant us happy life, martyr’s death, winning in judgment, and victory over the enemies.” Praise be to God, we are happy with our belief, and I wish that God concludes my life with martyrdom, and that my martyrdom be at the hand of a non-Muslim.

    [Asharq Al Awsat] Do you suspect that one day your martyrdom will be at the hand of a Muslim?

    [Al-Qaradawi] This might happen by a crazy person.

    [Asharq Al Awsat] Have you ever been threatened?

    [Al-Qaradawi] Only the Jews have threatened me publicly. I have not been threatened by a Muslim. However, it is not excluded that someone affiliated to the extremist groups would come and want to get rid of me.

    [Asharq Al Awsat] Your Eminence, who do you miss?

    [Al-Qaradawi] I miss most of my friends, who have gone one after the other, and now I am alone. However, praise be to God, I feel very happy because people love me everywhere.

    [Asharq Al Awsat] What are your thoughts on the latest fatwa by Ansar al-Sunnah al-Muhammadiyyah Group [Supporters of Muhammad Sunnah Group] about ElBaradei nominating himself as a candidate in the presidential elections, the fatwa that says that it is allowed for the guardian to detain, imprison, or even execute ElBaradei, because of his destabilization of the country and of the state security?

    [Al-Qaradawi] No one is allowed to say this, because the Constitution has secured this and granted it to others (Al-Qaradawi means being a candidate in the elections).

  • London

    Is Islamic finance the new challenge to Wall Street?

    Is Islamic finance the new challenge to Wall Street?


    I WAS in Kuala Lumpur in October attending the Global Islamic Finance Forum, organised by Bank Negara and the Malaysian International Islamic Finance Centre. The whole glitterati of the Islamic world was here, and coincidentally, the HSBC Asia Board also held its meeting, so it was also good time to catch up with all the Hong Kong good and great, including the incoming taipans at the bank.

    In the 1990s, Islamic finance was a fledgling fringe industry. But today, its size has grown from roughly US$150bil to about US$1 trillion in size. This is, of course, still small relative to some of the largest global fund managers and universal banks, who manage more than US$1 trillion each. But the double-digit growth and potential size of the market cannot be ignored. Some pundits think that the market size will reach US$2 trillion within the next five years.

    There are roughly 1.3 billion Muslims in the world, with 138 million in India and roughly 30 million in China. These are growing markets in terms of income and wealth. As the Muslim community seeks to invest in interest-free banking, Islamic funds have been growing in leaps and bounds. Today, there are roughly US$800bil in Islamic banking funds, US$100bil in the sukuk (or Islamic bond) market and another US$100bil in takaful (Islamic insurance) and fund management business. Hong Kong, of course, introduced the Hang Seng Syariah Compliant China Index Fund in 2008 to attract Muslim investors.

    As oil prices continue to remain at high levels, the Middle East oil-producers will continue to generate surpluses that must be parked somewhere. With the Western markets and economies under pressure, some of that money has moved Eastwards.

    Will Islamic finance be a serious challenge to traditional Wall Street finance’ That is a question that deserves a good answer.

    First of all, thanks to the good work of Bank Negara and the Gulf central banks, the infrastructure for Islamic finance has been laid, with the establishment of the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions or Aoffi, the Islamic accounting standards authority, the Islamic Financial Services Board or IFSB, the international Islamic financial regulatory standard-setting organisation and the Institute for Education in Islamic Finance or Inceif. The International Shariah Research Academy for Islamic Finance or Isra also provides an invaluable website that is increasingly the transparent source for syariah interpretations on what is considered acceptable under Islamic law.

    For people unfamiliar with Islamic finance, the basic principle of Islamic banking is the sharing of profit and loss and the prohibition of usury. Simply put, interest is prohibited, but profit sharing is not. A cynic can say that with zero-interest rate policies adopted by advanced country central banks today, they are also practicing Islamic banking.

    The distinctive elements of Islamic finance are its ethical element (the prohibition of usury and exploitation of the borrower), the preference for trading in real assets (rather than synthetic products), partnership between the investor and investee and its governance structure (requiring a syariah council).

    The point to remember in Islamic finance is that there is no Islamic global reserve currency. Although Islamic banks are growing rapidly, there is no assurance that they are not subject to the problems of non-performing loans and bank runs that are endemic in commercial banking.

    What has been most innovative was the launching this week of an International Islamic Liquidity Management Corp (IILM) aimed to assist institutions offering Islamic financial services in addressing their liquidity management in an efficient and effective manner. This institution addresses one of the fundamental problems of Islamic financial institutions the provision of adequate liquidity in times of stress. Once there is an international lender of last resort facility (to supplement and not to replace national facilities), there would be better confidence in the liquidity of the Islamic financial services industry.

    The IILM is expected to issue high quality syariah-compliant financial instruments at both the national level and across borders to enhance the soundness and stability of the Islamic financial markets.

    The signatories of the IILM Articles of Agreement are the eleven central banks or monetary agencies of Indonesia, Iran, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. The Islamic Development Bank and the Islamic Corp for the Development of the Private Sector are the multilateral organisations participating in the initiative.

    Islamic finance has come a long way, but there is still a long way to go, since US$1 trillion is still small relative to US$232 trillion in conventional financial assets (excluding derivatives).

    The real test with any challenger to Wall Street finance is whether Islamic finance will be more efficient, more ethical and more stable. Islamic finance fulfills the needs of the Islamic customer. Ethics aside, there are two crucial problems in finance information asymmetry and the principal-agent problem. Because markets are not completely transparent and information is unequal among market participants, we tend to rely on trusted agents, such as banks, to act on our behalf. Financial institutions are fiduciary agents on behalf of the principals, the real sector savers and borrowers.

    What this Wall Street crisis has demonstrated is that complex financial engineering enabled very smart bankers to make profits at the expense of the public purse, because they have become larger (five times greater than GDP). When they fail, the public bears the losses because they are too large and too powerful to fail. This is not the level playing field that is a pre-condition of free markets.

    The real question is that under information asymmetry, how do the principals know that the risks of the agents (the banks) have shifted to principals through moral hazard’ Islamic finance faces exactly the same dilemma.

    If Islamic finance theoreticians can solve this problem, they would be doing a great service to the rest of the world. Then we would truly have an alternative to Wall Street.

    ● Tan Sri Andrew Sheng is adjunct professor at Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, and Tsinghua University, Beijing. He has served in key positions at Bank Negara, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission, and is currently a member of Malaysias National Economic Advisory Council.

    Best Regards

  • Gibraltar. Tariq Ibnu Ziyad led the opening of Gibraltar in 711.

    Tears of Gaza

    “1.6 billion Muslims and 57 OIC countries. Qatar stands at number one with the highest per capita income in the world $83,841 and Brunei is at number five with per capita income $49,110. 22 OIC member countries are currently classified by the World Bank as Low-income countries and 28 are Middle-income countries (20 lower middle-income and 8 upper middleincome). In contrast, only 7 OIC member countries are classified as high-income countries. World Bank classification by level of indebtedness, 22 OIC member countries are considered as Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs), potentially eligible to receive debt relief”. Source: Annual Economic Report of the OIC Countries 2010. Click Annual Economic Report 2010

    As a reflection to the above, just watch the video below.

    OIC member countries 57 GDP

    1-Turkey: 1,028,897,000,000 – 13.138
    2 – Indonesia: 907,264,000,000 – 3.600
    3-Iran: 839,438,000,000 – 8.400
    4 – Saudi Arabia: 601,200,000,000 – 13.100
    5-Egypt: 445,300,000,000 – 3.900
    6-Pakistan: 401,900,000,000 – 2.400
    7-Bangladesh: 376,300,000,000 – 2.100
    8-Malaysia: 327,030,000,000 – 12,000
    9-Algeria: 274,500,000,000 – 7.200
    10-Nigeria: 234,500,000,000 – 1,400
    11-United Arab Emirates: 208,100,000,000 – 45.200
    12-Morocco: 204,300,000,000 – 4.100
    13-Kazakhstan: 173,800,000,000 – 8.300
    14-Kuwait: 156,100,000,000 – 20.300
    15-Sudan: 149,890,000,000 – 2.100
    16-Tunisia: 131,850,000,000 – 8.200
    17-Qatar: 124,420,000,000 -$83,841
    18-Libya: 121,000,000,000 – 11.800
    19-Iraq: 104,310,000,000 – 1.800
    20 – Syria: 93,760,000,000 – 3.900
    21-Uzbekistan: 88,360,000,000 – 1.900
    22-Azerbaijan: 72,990,000,000 – 5.400
    23-Uganda: 66,390,000,000 – 1.800
    24-Oman: 65,750,000,000 – 13.500
    25-Cameroon: 53,140,000,000 – 2.300
    26-Turkmenistan: 49,580,000,000 – 7.900
    27-Ivory Coast: 45,850,000,000 – 1.600
    28-Jordan: 37,180,000,000 – 4.700
    29-Mozambique: 28,460,000,000 – 1.300
    30-Lebanon: 22,780,000,000 – 6.000
    31-Afghanistan: 21,500,000,000 – 800
    32-Senegal: 20,570,000,000 – 1.800
    33-Yemen: 19,360,000,000 – 900
    34-Albania: 18,870,000,000 – 5.300
    35-Guinea: 18,650,000,000 – 2,000
    36-Burkina Faso: 16,660,000,000 – 1.200
    37-Bahrain: 15,900,000,000 – 23.100
    38 – Chad: 13,980,000,000 – 1,400
    39-Mali: 13,610,000,000 – 1.200
    40-Niger: 11,590,000,000 – 1,000
    41-Kyrgyzstan: 10,080,000,000 – 2,000
    42-Gabon: 9,739,000,000 – 7,000
    43-Togo: 8,802,000,000 – 1.600
    44-Tajikistan: 8,617,000,000 – 1.200
    45-benin: 8,419,000,000 – 1.100
    46-Mauritania: 6,901,000,000 – 2.200
    47-Brunei: 6,842,000,000 -$49,110
    48-Sierra Leone: 4,939,000,000 – 800
    49-Somalia: 4,809,000,000 – 600
    50-Guyana: 3,439,000,000 – 4,500
    51-The Gambia: 3,034,000,000 – 1.900
    52-Suriname: 2,893,000,000 – 6.600
    53-Maldives: 1,250,000,000 – 3.900
    54-Guinea-Bissau: 1,171,000,000 – 800
    55-Djibouti: 619,000,000 to 1.000
    56-Comoros Islands: 441,000,000 to 600
    57-Palestine (not available )